U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard stopped loan forgiveness payments and debt relief for disadvantaged farmers nationwide, according to Just the News, citing the Middle District Court of Florida decision.
As previously reported by Human Events News, the program was already temporarily paused following a lawsuit filed by a conservative group and farmer coalition in Wisconsin.
The debt-relief program, aimed at non-white farmers, was part of Biden’s whopping $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus package passed in March, and offers “socially disadvantaged” farmers $4 billion in loan-forgiveness, which includes direct payments of up to 20 percent of the loan value. Specifically, the law says those eligible must be “Black/African American, American Indian or Alaskan native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander.”
The Florida judge wrote that in developing the program benefiting farmers based on race, “Congress also must heed its obligation to do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race.” She noted “it appears that in adopting Section 1005’s strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care.”
She added that the U.S. Agriculture Department could persist in getting ready to supply the debt relief until the program is deemed “constitutionally permissible.”
“This program is discriminatory because it bases eligibility for loan forgiveness solely on the basis of being a member of a minority group, regardless of your circumstances,” Wen Fa, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation who filed the Florida suit, said. “If you’re a white farmer, regardless of your circumstances, you are categorically ineligible.”